Scott Braden’s Lost Tales: Paul Kupperberg’s DC Double Comics

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♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his fifth in an occasional series about comic series that never were. Today it’s Paul Kupperberg’s DC Double Comics with exclusive art from the series that never was…

Paul Kupperberg’s DC Double Comics

One of the four-color medium’s most acclaimed writers, Paul Kupperberg is known as a comic book innovator – a fact readers would have discovered for themselves with his 1980s lost tale for DC Comics: DC Double Comics (DCDC).  

According to Kupperberg, the creation of DCDC was an editorial decision. “The New Adventures of Superboy and Supergirl had reached the point where something had to be done to boost their sales. I don’t know who decided to take the two features and put them together in a “double” title or why, but I liked the idea. Every month, Superboy and Supergirl would share the 40 story pages, taking turns in the 24-page lead slot. So, Superboy  was cancelled with #54 (June, 1984) and Supergirl with #23 (September 1984) while I began writing the stories for the first issue of DCDC, likely in early 1984.” 

The series featured new directions for both the Boy of Steel and the Maid of Might – characters with whom Kupperberg was very familiar. 

“I guess you could call DCDC soft reboots for the characters,” Kupperberg said. “Superboy had been cancelled rather abruptly, practically in mid-storyline, which involved Pa Kent’s arrest for the murder of a business rival, who was also the father of Clark’s girlfriend, Lisa Wallace. I’d already written the script for #55, but it never made it into Kurt Schaffenberger’s hands. 

“In the new Superboy series, the plan was to move away from small town Smallville stories and go cosmic. Superboy becomes aware of a looming extraterrestrial threat to Earth and goes in search of fellow super-powered teens he’s also been made aware of to band together and fight it off.”  

“Supergirl was jettisoning the Chicago-based stories, at least for the time being, and we were sending her off into outer space, to the planet New Krypton, where the survivors of Kandor, including her parents, had relocated and where she’d be temporarily superpowerless and we could put the character into situations outside her comfort zone.” 

“Before I got word from editor Julie Schwartz to stop working,”Kupperberg said, “I’d written both scripts for DCDC #1 and the full 24-page script for Superboy, and 13 of the 16 pages for the Supergirl story for #2. Carmine Infantino had penciled the first issue’s Superboy story (which was lettered by Ben Oda, and at least the splash page was inked by Klaus Jansen), while Eduardo Baretto and letterer Ed King had finished Supergirl #1. 

Kupperberg also explained how he got the artists on board the innovative title: “Well, Carmine was just shifting from one feature, Supergirl, to another, Superboy. Julie had been his editor forever, since the 1940s, and Carmine had, by this point in his career, kind of gone on cruise control. Not that he didn’t deliver the goods, but he really didn’t care what he was given to draw, just as long as he was being kept busy.” 

“And, Eduardo wasn’t yet legendary, although his work was already awesome. In fact, he was one of the new kids in the Superman Family stable of artists. I believe an issue of Superman or Supergirl I’d written about a year earlier had been among his first work in American comics.”  

Besides working with Infantino on DCDC, Kupperberg  had also worked with the comic book legend on his Supergirl series in the 1980s. He explained their team dynamic, or something close to one.“I’m a lifelong fan of Carmine Infantino’s work, since I was a kid the early 1960s,” Kupperberg said.  

“He was the first artist whose work I learned to identify by sight, and I still think he was probably the best designer and one of the most influential artists of his time. He drew several of my scripts over the years beyond our time together on Supergirl and it was always a thrill. He may have lost his interest in the work by that time, but he never lost his skill. And Carmine was old school: the editor handed him a script, he drew it and turned it in, then the editor handed him another one, so there wasn’t much of a team dynamic, beyond the fact that I think he drew my scripts really, really well!” 

No matter how masterfully Infantino and Baretto drew Kupperberg’s scripts, it didn’t prevent the project from being killed. The epic Crisis on Infinite Earths event rendered the stories null. 

Killed it dead as the Barry Allen Flash and…Supergirl,” said Kupperberg.  “Crisis on Infinite Earths had been in the planning stages for a couple of years when we were working on DCDC. I think Marv started planting the seeds of the storyline in New Teen Titans in 1982, but the project kept getting pushed back on the schedule for various reasons. But by late 1984, all the pieces were in place and all the wrinkles had been ironed out and Crisis on Infinite Earths was given the go-ahead. 

“Crisis on Infinite Earths was supposed to be a start-over for what some considered DC’s multiverse/multi-characters-with-the-same-age confusion. Everything in the DC Universe was going to be exploded and restarted, literally from the moment of creation, so that there no longer were many Earths and many versions of Superman and Green Lantern. By the end, there was only the one Earth, with the one Superman, one GL, one Flash, etc. 

“But no Superboy or Supergirl! They got what came to be known as retconned from DC’s continuity – erased from existence. Superman would no longer put on the super-suit until he was an adult. And in the new canon, Supergirl simply ceased to exist.

Paul Kupperburg Lost Tales images www.tripwiremagazine.co.uk

Although no longer heralding the exploits of Superboy or Supergirl, Kupperberg does continue to write within and outside the comics industry.   

“I’m working on several projects right now,”Kupperberg said, “including a memoir and a young adult novel, as well as Paul Kupperberg’s Guide to Writing Comics, which we’re preparing for publication for next year from Charlton Neo Comics (morttodd.com). I’m also writing two new online series for Archie Comics, The Golden Pelican and Rogue State, and my mystery novel, set in the comic book industry of 1952, The Same Old Story, and short story collection, In My Shorts, are available on Amazon or from Crazy8Press.com. I’m on Facebook and Twitter, as well as at PaulKupperberg.com.”

Lost Tales©2018 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved

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